Why A Little Kindness Can Improve Your Work

Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, shares how kindness at work can boost staff morale.
Why A Little Kindness Can Improve Your Work

In today’s fast-paced world, many people show up at work each day without feeling emotionally invested in what they do. The stress of the daily grind can create a cycle of low motivation, dwindling productivity and escalating unhappiness.

While there will always be pressure to perform and deadlines to meet, happiness at the workplace is not a lost cause if kindness is its starting point.

Research has shown a clear link between kindness and happiness. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies confirmed that doing a kind act bestows a sense of satisfaction not only on the receiver, but also on the one who performs the act and those who witness it. Kindness releases a mixture of chemicals, including dopamine and serotonin, in our brain, making us feel good.

The benefits of kindness can revitalise an organisation and enrich the lives of its employees. Acts of kindness at work breed camaraderie and trust among colleagues, laying the foundations for better teamwork.

Make kindness your business

In 2013, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) kick-started the Kindness@Work initiative to foster happier and more gracious workplaces in Singapore. Through our customised workshops and employee engagement programmes, more than 20 organisations have committed to transforming the workplace with kindness.

Changi General Hospital observed a Kindness Day this year, and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) did it for a month. As part of the NKF’s Kindness Month, staff surprised their colleagues based at dialysis centres with snacks to encourage and show appreciation for their dedication in frontline work. Many new friendships were forged, which makes for better understanding and collaboration in the future.

Kindness aligns naturally with business functions too, such as at UOB, where staff took part in a “Kindness and the Art of Service Recovery” workshop. Recognising kindness as a key part of good customer service encourages employees to inject a human touch into otherwise perfunctory customer interactions. This leaves a good impression on the bank’s stakeholders and deepens relationships, boosting its image and business opportunities.

Simple acts

How can we be more proactive in bringing kindness to the workplace? Here are some suggestions.

Lead by example: Bosses play an essential role in creating happier workplaces. To effect a change in corporate culture and employee engagement, bosses must first walk the talk, including being open to considering others’ ideas. They pave the way for a fair, collaborative and open culture, where employees feel valued and appreciated.

Respect and support one another: Exercise pride and integrity to produce excellent work, and set each other up for success. For example, even though SKM is split to cover several sectors, we encourage everyone to support one another’s projects and events – whether by guiding, sharing past experiences or simply being on-site to lend a hand. As a result, the emotional burden of carrying an entire project on one’s shoulders is alleviated, and our team members feel more empowered to be ambitious and creative. We recognise that a job well done is our shared success.

Boost morale: Share with your colleagues what makes the organisation great, how it brings value to its staff and how everyone can make good things happen by working together. Affirm others when they do well, and reciprocate when you receive affirmation.

Do simple gestures: Greet one another cheerfully, share a smile, offer to help colleagues, welcome new people and be respectful of each other’s race, religion and individual differences.

The benefits of creating a culture of kindness in the workplace go far beyond just warm feelings – stress is reduced, health and well-being improves, engagement increases, and employees are motivated to strive to excel for the organisation.

An office culture of kindness, then, becomes contagious – and also makes good business sense.

    Nov 9, 2015
    Dr William Wan
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